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COUNTYWIDE : Project for Mentally Ill Gains Backing

Supporters of a proposed low-cost housing complex for the mentally ill received assurance Tuesday that the project has the backing of a majority of the County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor John K. Flynn, a longtime booster of the proposed $4.5-million project next to Camarillo State Hospital, said another supervisor, James R. Dougherty, has decided to become the crucial third vote needed to keep the project on track.

As it is proposed, the county must provide $600,000 to help build the condominium project for 150 mentally ill people who are not confined full time to a hospital. The federal government has set aside money to cover the remaining cost.

Until Dougherty’s announcement, only two board members, Flynn and Susan K. Lacey, had committed themselves to the project. Others on the five-member board, Madge L. Schaefer and Maggie H. Erickson, had said they wanted to wait until formal budget hearings before taking a position.

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Dougherty, the swing vote, was absent during earlier discussions. Tuesday, Flynn read the supervisors a note from Dougherty saying, “I am committed to supporting the mental health project at budget time, and . . . I believe whatever steps are necessary to assure that the project proceeds in a timely manner should be taken immediately.”

Dougherty, who is recovering from throat surgery, was present but did not speak. “This is the go-ahead we’ve been waiting for,” Flynn said after the meeting.

“Now we can proceed with getting a lease from the state, arranging for the water supply and so forth.”

Project supporters cheered when Flynn made the announcement. They had vowed to attend board meetings every week until they were assured that the county would pay its share of the cost.

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“This means we have three of the five votes,” said John Ellis, representing the Friends and Advocates of the Mentally Ill. “It’s important to us to have that assurance.”


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